FREEDIVING – IT’S BASICALLY SNORKELLING with good PR. It involves holding your breath, often to the point of semi-suffocation. What’s so free about that?
It wasn’t a question I’d often asked myself until I turned up for a shore-dive with an empty cylinder and a handful of misplaced optimism. The urge to submerge is still strong, even when everyone with a working compressor has shut up shop.
Scuba relies on the services of dive-shops and centres to provide you with something to breathe. Freediving has no such complication. As long as you have a mask and fins you can freedive. Game on!
The water temperature is a frisky 13°C, and I’m here with my drysuit. What could possibly go wrong?
“Tell me you’re not going snorkelling,” scoffs my companion as I start to push my feet into the boots of my drysuit.
Well, technically no, because I don’t have a snorkel. But I haven’t come on a three-hour drive from London only to return without getting wet.
A snorkel is unnecessary clutter as far as I’m concerned. When attached to your mask-strap it’s the diving equivalent of a trip hazard.
A snorkel stuffed down a knife-strap on your calf is invariably forgotten about. Until you’re back on the boat. Where you don’t need it.
A boat to jump off would come in handy right now. I shuffle down the stony slope of the beach and wade out through the waves to pull on my fins. This is so much easier without the weight of scuba-gear.
I fin away from the shore. Bobbing on the surface like a cork, I’m determined to visit the seabed. It must be down there somewhere. Vis isn’t great.
As soon as I duck-dive I feel the air in my suit migrating from my shoulders to my boots. My fins are in danger of popping off as I thrash and fight my way under water.
The seabed is literally in my face. I can practically stand up here.